State Budget Eliminates Rental Weatherization Program

September 25, 2017

Governor Walker signed the 2017-2019 Biennial Budget, which included the total repeal of Wisconsin’s Rental Weatherization Program.  At its inception, the Rental Weatherization Program was a well-intentioned law that addressed energy saving concerns with rental properties.  However, the current building codes and energy efficiency requirements have done a far better job of improving the energy efficiency of Wisconsin’s rental stock than the now outdated Rental Weatherization Program.

The Rental Weatherization Program only applied to 1 and 2-unit residences constructed before December 1, 1978, and buildings with 3 or more living units constructed before April 15, 1976. The Rental Weatherization Program required covered properties to meet minimum energy conservation standards at the time of the sale of the property.  Under the law, the State’s Registers of Deeds would not record the transfer of a property covered by the law unless an inspector certified the property as compliant, a stipulation was filed to bring the property up to code within one year of sale, or another exception applied.

Although the Rental Weatherization Program initially accomplished its goal of improving the energy efficiency of older rental properties, over time it became more about form over substance.  First, the law has been around since the 1980s, so a large portion of the older rental properties have already been brought up to code and have lifetime certifications.  Second, the state lacks the resources to review the tens of thousands of stipulations that may have been filed decades ago and confirm that those properties are now in compliance.  Third, the requirements of filing either a certificate of compliance or a stipulation have caused confusion in the market and have created an obstacle to transferring properties to buyers.  The obstacle to closing real estate transactions may not sound like a large issue to the lay person.   But, ask any Realtor® or title company about the problems caused by this requirement, and you will discover that it is has been a long-time headache for those in the real estate industry for a program that no longer appears to benefit the public.

The repeal will take effect on January 1, 2018.